Tuesday, July 6, 2010

LOGAN'S RUN (Blu-Ray)

Previously released on DVD by MGM and Warner Brothers at least three times, the 1976 science fiction favorite LOGAN'S RUN made its high-definition debut on Blu-Ray disc last winter, but I only just got my hands on it over the past weekend. I've always enjoyed the movie - it's a favorite from my childhood - and I was eager to replace my old 1998 MGM disc.

Sometime in the distant future, after a great global catastrophe, humanity lives in sealed, domed cities where their every need is met, and life is devoted to sybaritic pleasures. There's one catch, though - at age 30, each citizen must undergo the rite of Carousel where they are killed, supposedly to be renewed - presumably reincarnated - into a newborn life.

Some people don't have much faith in the whole "renewal" concept, and instead decide to try and avoid their fate by running away to someplace outside the domes that they call "Sanctuary." These "runners" are hunted and terminated by a special, armed force known as Sandmen. One of these Sandmen, Logan 5 (Michael York, THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, THE THREE MUSKETEERS) is ordered by the computer intelligence that runs the city to infiltrate the runners, find "Sanctuary," and destroy it. Using a young woman named Jessica 6 (Jenny Agutter, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON) to win the trust of the runners, he begins his search - only to find himself questioning the system, falling in love, and being hunted by his best friend.

Directed by Michael Anderson (ORCA, MILLENNIUM), LOGAN'S RUN is very much a product of its era, and while much of it may seem dated today, it was clearly an expensive, seriously-intended science fiction effort on the part of the studio and filmmakers.

Somewhat loosely based on a novel by George Clayton Johnson and William F. Nolan, the film is an entertaining futuristic adventure with good performances by York and the lovely Agutter, and a particularly delightful thespic turn by Peter Ustinov. It further benefits from charming, old-school, hand-crafted special effects (the movie was produced just one year before the effects revolution inaugurated by STAR WARS), and some imaginative production design. Jerry Goldsmith's musical score is also innovative, with a fascinating melding of electronic tonalities with symphonic themes.

LOGAN'S RUN isn't without its flaws, but it's a fun movie. The film was popular enough in its day to spawn a Marvel Comics series, a single-season television show, and a couple of sequel novels by Nolan, and it's fondly remembered by more than a few old fanboys like myself.

Warners' Blu-Ray disc is a significant improvement over the 1998 MGM DVD I own, with a razor-sharp, color-balanced transfer that is utterly devoid of specks or other imperfections. Presented in 1080p 2.40:1 widescreen, the disc apparently uses the same source material as the 2007 Warners DVD, and it looks absolutely stunning in high-def. Ported over from the '07 DVD is an audio commentary track by director Anderson, star York and costume designer Bill Thomas. There's also a vintage promotional featurette and the original theatrical trailer.

LOGAN'S RUN is a minor classic of 1970's science fiction cinema, and the Blu-Ray is the best home video presentation of the film to date. Considering that it retails for around ten bucks, every self-respecting vintage SF fan should consider adding it to their HD library.

Recommended.

BUY: Logan's Run [Blu-ray]